Students to vote on changes to SGB Constitution

By Brett Sholtis / Staff Writer

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A committee met Monday to discuss proposed changes to the Student Government Board Constitution.

Ten members of the Constitutional Review Committee met at 2 p.m. in the SGB conference room in the William Pitt Union Monday afternoon. The committee, which was formed last month, is led by Joseph Kozak, chair of SGB’s Judicial Committee, and is composed of representatives from student organizations and other SGB committees.

Members of SGB’s Judicial, Transportation and Safety, Governmental Relations and Academic Affairs committees are represented on the Constitutional Review Committee, which has 13 members including Kozak.

Representatives of campus organizations such as the Interfraternity Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the Rainbow Alliance and the Asian Student Alliance also serve on the committee.

Although committee members disagreed over some details of the constitution’s wording, nobody dissented with the essential concepts.

Three main changes will be up for referendum vote during the Nov. 21 SGB election.

One major change focuses on the voting system, itself. In the current system, any undergraduate student who is not part of the College of General Studies may vote for five SGB candidates and one presidential candidate.

Under the proposed revision, students would only be able to vote for three SGB candidates and one presidential candidate.

Most SGB candidates currently campaign as members of slates.

A slate, according to Kozak, is a coalition of people campaigning together, composed of up to three members running for Board positions or one presidential candidate and two candidates for the Board. Last year, some slates paired up to campaign together. These coalitions were commonly referred to as “megaslates.”

According to Kozak, the current system allows for two sister slates working as a megaslate to monopolize the Board, which has eight members in addition to the president.

“Right now, six friends could always go and run together and control SGB,” Kozak said.

According to Robert Beecher, chair of SGB’s Governmental Relations Committee, this revision to the SGB Constitution will prevent such monopolies in future elections.

“[This change] creates a disincentive for six people to work together and effectively and systematically gets rid of the sister slate system,” Beecher said.

Another proposed change deals with SGB members’ academic standards. Presently, SGB members must maintain a minimum 2.5 grade point average. Under the proposed change, Board members would have to maintain a 2.75 GPA.

According to Brandon Benjamin, president of the Rainbow Alliance, the change to GPA-standards would place Pitt above the standards set for student governments of many other schools.

The third potential change that is up for referendum concerns the wording of the SGB Constitution’s preamble. According to Gordon Louderback, SGB president, this change will make the constitution easier to understand.

He also said the constitution was due for an update.

“We don’t even have a date of the last revision [in the constitution]. It’s about … changing the document to better pertain to the current students,” Louderback said.

William Engler, a Judicial Committee member, said that the linguistic changes will also make it easier for SGB to enforce the laws.

“We talked about how this readability is good for the student body,” Engler said. “It’s also good for student government itself. Having a clear document … makes it easier to understand and enforce laws.”

Committee members planned to meet again next week.

Zach Patton, the president of Interfraternity Council, said he was pleased that SGB was letting outside groups into its revisions process.

“I think it’s great that student government is handling this internally and putting other organizations here. It’s a really good sign of excellent leadership,” said Patton.

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